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Celine received a standing ovation© Getty

Celine Dion's heartbreaking update on health — 'it's like somebody strangling you'

The "My Heart Will Go On" singer has Stiff Person Syndrome

Bryony Gooch
US Writer
June 7, 2024
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Celine Dion gave a rare update on her health, and how it has gone on to impact her career and day-to-day life. 

The Queen of Power Ballads spoke candidly about her experience of Stiff Person Syndrome on TODAY in her first TV interview since her diagnosis in December 2022. The diagnosis led her to retreat from the public eye as she sought recovery, unable to sing anymore.

WATCH: Celine Dion gets emotional talking about Stiff Person Syndrome

Now, she has revealed just why she was unable to sing - as her illness has had a heartbreaking impact on her voice.

"It's like somebody strangling you", she said with bleak imagery. "It's like someone's pushing your larynx pharynx", she demonstrated, "this way."

Hoda Kotb interviews Celine Dion for a special to air on NBC June 11 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.© NBC News
Hoda Kotb interviews Celine Dion for a special to air on NBC June 11 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.

"It's like you're talking like that", she added with her voice pitched up and weak. "And you can't go high or lower."

The undertone of emotion in her voice showed that she was utterly heartbroken about this, as she is passionate about singing and performing.

Celine Dion in a still from "I Am: Celine Dion"© Prime Video
Celine Dion in a still from "I Am: Celine Dion"

"It gets into a spasm," she explained, adding it started in her neck and she thought it was "going to be fine."

The singer then added that it could also be "in the abdominal, it can be in the spine, it can be in the ribs." This meant that if she pointed her feet, they would stay in that position. Similarly, if she were cooking, her hands would cramp and stay stiff and she could "not unlock them."

 this screengrab, Celine Dion performs during "One World: Together At Home" presented by Global Citizen on April, 18, 2020. © Getty Images
Celine performing

Celine had even had broken ribs as a result of her illness, as when it stiffens it can get to the point of breakage.

She previously said of her condition: "I hope this won't scare people off [from getting a diagnosis] and will alert them instead. It took me 17 years to understand what was going on. I beg of you, don't wait that long!"

The star goes into more depth in her documentary about her life-altering illness and experience trying to get back on stage, after years of being unable to perform. I Am: Celine Dion, is set to drop on Amazon Prime Video on June 25.

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